IFC tax study committee meeting wrap-up

Victor Joecks

If you were following this morning’s live blog, you’ve already seen the money quote (pun intended).

10:18 A passing comment from Assemblymen Anderson reveals the true purpose of this study. “We don’t have money. That’s the reason we’re doing the study.”

As we’ve said before, legislators are going to use this tax study to justify raising your taxes. If it were truly about finding “recommendations to improve the stability of existing revenues and provid[ing] recommendations for new revenues that are designed to improve the stability of state and local government funding and are tied to the economic activity of the state,” legislators would be requesting a revenue-neutral proposal.

The two main parts of the meeting focused on the Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group (NVSG) and a review of Nevada’s previous tax studies.

The proposed purpose of the NVSG is to come up with five-year, 10-year and 20-year strategic plans for improving Nevada’s quality of life.

While no one is against a better quality of life, no one agrees on what that means. So the IFC is going to appoint individuals from five areas to define Nevada’s quality-of-life goals.

Think about that for a second. Unelected individuals are going to define and determine what “quality of life means for you and me. This is impossible, because “quality of life” means entirely different things to different people. Individuals are unique and diverse. Some people value wealth; others value mobility, or family, or the outdoors or whatever. That’s the beauty of freedom – individuals can pursue their own interests and do what gives their life meaning and value.

The role of government is to protect your rights of life, liberty and property, and in the case of state and local governments, to provide a few essential services like roads, education, police, fire and a health care safety net.

But that’s not what’s happening with the NVSG. The NVSG will be composed of individuals from commerce and industry, education, health and human services, public safety and infrastructure. All of those groups (when you consider regulations and special tax breaks for commerce and industry) stand to benefit directly from increasing taxes. Their quality of life goes up if they can take and control more of your money. Your quality of life will go down, of course, but you’ll notice there are no spots on the NVSG for ordinary citizens or taxpayers.

Even Sen. Raggio was speaking up against this imbalance.

The review of Nevada’s previous tax studies (available here) was fairly dry, but there was one nugget of insight. Legislative Counsel Bureau staff member Russ Guindon was discussing the previous studies and pointed out that previous recommendations needed to be examined in light of the direction the legislature gave the study. In other words, Legislatures would purchase the results they wanted the tax study to produce.

Hmmm. That sounds familiar.

Update: Thanks to Cranky Hermit for the link.